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#300 IS A GEM FOR OSWALT
Roy Oswalt tossed a four-hit shutout to defeat the Mets on Sunday in the 300th start of his major-league career. Oswalt (146-81) has the third-most wins through his first 300 career starts of any active pitcher. Only Andy Pettitte (156-87 in 2005) and Roy Halladay (153-78 earlier this year) had more wins (as a starter) through their 300th start than Oswalt.
ROYALS BLOW SIX-RUN FIRST-INNING LEAD IN CHICAGO
The White Sox, who trailed Kansas City 6-0 after the top of the first inning, defeated the Royals, 12-6, on the strength of a pair of home runs by Paul Konerko and a pinch-hit grand slam off the bat of Andruw Jones. It was the 30th home game in White Sox history in which they allowed at least six runs in the first inning, but it was the first of those games in which they came back to win.
ANOTHER PINCH-HIT WALK-OFF HR FOR GIAMBI
Jason Giambi hit his second walk-off home run of the season, both as a pinch-hitter, to give the Rockies a 4-2 triumph over the Diamondbacks. Over the past 40 years, the only other players to hit two game-ending homers as a pinch-hitter in one season were Bruce Bochy (1986 Padres) and Chris Jones (1995 Mets).
TWINS HANG FIVE IN FIRST
Orlando Hudson and Joe Mauer had back-to-back singles during a five-run first-inning rally that proved to be all the Twins would need to top the Indians in Cleveland. Hudson (.374) and Mauer (.373) have the two highest first-inning batting averages in the American League this season (minimum: 75 first-inning at-bats).
LOOKING AT PAPELBON
Jonathan Papelbon nailed down the Red Sox 5-3 win at Oakland by pitching a perfect ninth inning in which he caught Cliff Pennington, Coco Crisp and Daric Barton looking at third strikes. Papelbon was the first pitcher this season to notch a save by retiring the side in order in the final inning of a game, all on called strikeouts. Only four other pitchers have done that over the last ten seasons: Mariano Rivera (June 29, 2001), Jose Valverde (June 7, 2003), Joe Nathan (April 21, 2007) and Ryan Franklin (July 17, 2009).
PADRES HEAR GIANT FOOTSTEPS
Tim Lincecum defeated Mat Latos to once again move the Giants to within a percentage point of the N.L. West leading Padres. San Diego owned sole possession of first place for the last 87 days (since June 18), the second-longest continuous span for any of the current division leaders in the major leagues. The Rangers have been the outright leaders in the A.L. West for the last 97 days (since June 8).
PIRATES RALLY TO BEAT CORDERO
The Pirates rallied for three runs in the ninth inning off Francisco Cordero to defeat the Reds in Cincinnati and spoil a seven-inning, three-hit performance by Reds starter Johnny Cueto. It was the second consecutive blown save opportunity for Cordero (also Friday night), who had accumulated 120 saves since the last time he failed to convert two straight chances (July 26-28, 2007). It was the sixth time this season that the Reds bullpen squandered the lead in a game in which Cueto was the pitcher of record on the winning side. Only Josh Johnson (seven) has suffered more "blown wins" this year than Cueto.
FOSTER'S OPENING DAY IS SECOND ONLY TO O.J.'S
Arian Foster gained 231 yards rushing as the Texans defeated the Colts, 34-24. It was the second-highest rushing total ever recorded in a team's opening game of a season. The record is 250 yards, set by O.J. Simpson in 1973. Among the players who never gained even half as much rushing yardage in a season opener as Foster did (high season-opening game in parentheses): Jerome Bettis (89), Franco Harris (103), Jamal Lewis (78), and Jim Taylor (98).
Foster's 231 yards marked the highest rushing total ever recorded against the Colts. The previous high was 216 by Barry Sanders in 1997.
TEXANS SNAP COLTS' SEPTEMBER STREAK
The Texans became the first home team to defeat the Colts during the month of September since New England topped Indianapolis, 27-24, in their 2004 season opener. The Colts' streak of eight straight September road wins was one short of the NFL record set by the Chiefs (1966-1969) and equaled by the Cowboys (1967-1974) and the Vikings (1971-1977).
JOHNSON HITS THE GROUND RUNNING IN TITANS' OPENER
Chris Johnson gained 142 yards rushing, including 112 in the first half, in the Titans' 38-13 win over the Raiders. Over the previous eight seasons (2002-2009), only one player posted that high a rushing total in the first half of his team's opening game: Michael Turner for the Falcons in 2008 (135 first-half yards).
A GREAT SEASON FOLLOWED BY AN AUSPICIOUS START
Over the 20 seasons from 1990 to 2009, 51 players gained at least 1500 rushing yards in a season, including Chris Johnson, who gained 2006 yards last season. Only three others gained as many yards in their first game the next season as Johnson gained against the Raiders on Sunday: Barry Sanders, 1500 yards in 1995, 163 in 1996 season opener; Clinton Portis, 1591 yards in 2003, 148 in 2004 season opener; and Adrian Peterson, 1760 yards in 2008, 180 in 2009 season opener.
NICKS SHINES IN STADIUM OPENER
Hakeem Nicks caught three touchdown passes in the Giants' 31-18 win over the Panthers in the first regular-season NFL game at New Meadowlands Stadium. Nicks was the first player in more than 20 years to score three TDs for the home team in the first NFL game played in a stadium. The last player to do so was Ronald Scott of the Dolphins in their first game at Joe Robbie Stadium (now known as Sun Life Stadium) in 1987.
If Scott's name is unfamiliar, there's a good reason. He was a replacement player during the NFL players' strike in 1987, and he never played in the NFL before or after those three games.
62-MINUTE WAIT FOR A TD PAYS OFF FOR STEELERS FANS
Rashard Mendenhall's 50-yard run in the 3rd minute of overtime gave the Steelers a 15-9 victory over the Falcons. It was only the third game in NFL history in which the only TD was scored in OT. The others: Steelers over Browns, 15-9, in 1978 on a 37-yard pass from Terry Bradshaw to Bennie Cunningham; and Packers over Bears, 12-6 in 1980, when Chester Marcol scored from 25 yards out after Alan Page had blocked his field-goal attempt. Unsurprisingly it was the only TD of Marcol's NFL career.
CUTLER STARS IN BEARS' WIN
Jay Cutler passed for 372 yards, including a 28-yard touchdown pass to Matt Forte with 1:32 to play, in the Bears' 19-14 win over the Lions. Only one other player in Bears history passed for 300 yards in a game and also threw a game-winning TD pass inside the 2-minute warning: Brian Griese against the Eagles in 2007 (322 yards).
PATRIOTS SCORE EARLY AND OFTEN IN WIN OVER BENGALS
The Patriots led 24-0 after 25 minutes of their 34-24 win over the Bengals. This was Bill Belichick's 16th opening day as an NFL head coach, but it was the first in which his team led by 20 points in the first half.
VICK TURNS BACK THE CLOCK
Michael Vick passed for 175 yards and rushed for 103, but he came up short on a 4th-and-1 with 2 minutes to play in the Eagles' 27-20 loss to the Packers. It was the seventh time that Vick gained at least 100 yards by both rushing and passing, more than twice as often as any other player in NFL history. Ironically, the runners-up in that category are two of the most renowned QBs in Eagles history: Donovan McNabb and Randall Cunningham (3 each).
Prior to that, Vick had converted all five of his second-half 4th-and-1 runs (all during his six seasons with the Falcons).
CARROLL'S NFL RETURN IS A SMASHING SUCCESS
The Seahawks defeated the 49ers, 31-6, in Pete Carroll's first game as an NFL head coach since 1999. No other coach in NFL history returned from an absence nearly that long with such a decisive victory. By way of comparison, only two head coaches away from the NFL for even five years returned with a win by a margin of 20 or more points: Joe Kuharich missed five seasons before returning with a 38-7 victory for the Eagles over the Giants in 1964; and Nick Skorich had been away for seven seasons when his Browns posted a 31-0 opening-day win over the Houston Oilers in 1971.
WHAT WOULD LaRUSSA & DUNCAN THINK OF THIS PITCH COUNT?
Sam Bradford threw 55 passes in the Rams' 17-13 loss to the Cardinals, shattering the league record for a player making his NFL debut - a mark that stood for less than a year. The previous high was 44 by Keith Null, who started the last four games of the 2009 season for St. Louis. Incidentally, Bradford completed 32 passes, also breaking Null's record for an NFL debut (28).